The Lawrence Traffic Safety Commission made the intersection of 17th and Massachusetts, the site of a fatal traffic accident last month, the top priority of a pedestrian safety program Monday.
Lawrence city commissioners will consider the TSC's priority recommendation when they set the budget for the Pedestrian-Bicycle Improvement Project program later this year.
However, TSC members declined to recommend any specific solutions for the intersection, instead opting to wait for an upcoming report on the site.
The question of how to protect pedestrians who cross Massachusetts at the intersection was raised by members of the Oread Neighborhood Assn. Massachusetts Street is too wide, and cars go by too frequently to safely cross at the intersection, neighborhood residents say.
THE ONA members submitted a request for a pedestrian-activated stoplight at or near the intersection. It would be be paid for by the city under the pedestrian and bicycle safety program. ONA's application was in the works before an elderly resident of Babcock Place Apartments was killed at the intersection last month, said Lance Rake, ONA board member.
Theresa Knight, 86, was trying to cross Massachusetts Street just south of 17th Street on Jan. 29 when she was struck by a car driving north on Massachusetts. She died later from head injuries.
The application sparked a few comments of support from TSC members and little debate.
TSC members voted unanimously to give top priority to some kind of solution for the intersection, but didn't recommend a pedestrian-activated signal. They agreed that before they discussed specific recommendations, they needed to see a report from Johnson, Brickell, Mulcahy and Associates, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm hired by the Kansas Department of Transportation to examine three problem intersections in Lawrence.
"In view of the engineer's report, it seems to me our priority on these things is to wait until we have a little something more concrete," said Joe Wilson, a TSC member.
THE CITY expects to receive the report on 17th and Massachusetts in early April, according to Terese Gorman, city engineer.
"Once the TSC gets the report, they will either agree or disagree with whatever the engineer recommends," Gorman said. "But it's clear that their intent is to see something done about the intersection."
The TSC discussed and ranked five suggested projects at the Monday meeting.
Advocates of the pedestrian-activated signal light drew on the recent fatal accident to drive home the need for traffic control at the intersection.
"We all know about the tragedy that occurred at 17th and Massachusetts, and we all know that it could have been prevented by a pedestrian stop light," said Rake.
Rake also pointed out that many nearby residents cross at the intersection despite the danger, including Babcock Place residents, students of Cordley School, and Kansas University students.
"I think we owe it to our children to protect them any way we can," said Kerry Altenbernd, co-president of the Cordley PTA.
Rake said after the meeting that the commission's decision to give the intersection top priority was encouraging.
"IT'S STILL a little unclear as to what's going to happen, but there seems to be support to get something done with the intersection," Rake said.
The cost of a pedestrian-activated signal was estimated at $25,000. Because pedestrian and bicycle project funds are allocated by the city in January of each year, funding for work at 17th and Massachusetts wouldn't be available from that fund until 1993, Gorman said. The earliest the light could be installed, she said, is July 1993.
TSC members ranked the remaining four pedestrian-bicycle improvement projects as follows:
Removing deteriorated asphalt paths in the eastern half of South Park and replacing with concrete.
Installation of pedestrian-activated signals at the intersections of 11th Street and Kentucky and 11th Street and Tennessee.
Installing school beacons at 10th Street and Connecticut.
Replace existing light poles in the west side of South Park with 11 poles and the corresponding fixtures and electrical equipment.
IN OTHER action at the Monday meeting, the TSC:
Recommended denial of a request from Thomas Allen to install a three-way stop sign at West Campus Road and Stratford Road.
Recommended denial of a request from Donna Osness, principal of Riverside School, for a crossing guard for the crosswalk across North Iowa Street at Riverridge Road; denied a request from Osness for a sidewalk along the south side of Riverridge Road west to North Iowa.
Recommended approval of a request from the police department to install a stop sign for westbound traffic on 13th at Oak Hill Avenue; recommended revising the city code to remove authorization for a stop sign for westbound traffic on 13th Street at Brook Street.
Recommended a revision to the city code to remove authorization for parking on the north side of Locust between Seventh and Eighth Street.
Received a memo from City Commissioner John Nalbandian concerning a study session scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Feb. 24 between the TSC and city commissioners.